On Thursday, November 19, I collected my last pass port stamp for this trip. We left I-10 north of Tucson and took AZ70 and 79 to Coolidge AZ where Casa Grande Ruins National Monument is located. This is a place sacred to several tribes of Native Americans who trace their ancestry to the Ancestral People of the Sonoran Desert (sometimes called the Hohokam). They lived and thrived farming in this part of the desert by building irrigation canals from the three major rivers in the area. They grew to a large population and built many villages with walls and buildings of caliche (a concrete like mixture of sand, clay, and limestone). Casa Grande is a 4 story building built towards the end of their era. It is still standing in its ruined condition, but that attests to its original brilliant construction. No one knows why the population disbursed in the mid 1400’s, but these ruins tell much of their story.
One interesting thing is that we noticed cotton fields as we were driving to Coolidge. There were also irrigation canals. And it turns out that one of the major crops from the early Indians was cotton – so almost 600 years later, not much has changed!
We then chose to drive the belt line around Phoenix, which was not quite as straight forward as it looked on the map. However, we saw some new territory on the outskirts of Phoenix and eventually got back to Buckeye to spend the night.
And here we are on Friday the 20th staying in Palm Desert. We spent most of the day driving here, stopping for potty breaks and a little shopping. The desert here is not nearly as beautiful as that further east and south, being mostly rocks, sand, and barren hills.